More space for water, nature and people in the Grote Nete Valley – Antwerps Persbureau
MOL– Local and supra-local authorities are joining forces to work on the Grote Nete of the future. And that future looks eerily like the Grote Nete of decades ago. There will be more room for water, nature and people. By aligning their ambitions, partners can achieve much more. For example, they dream aloud of new welcoming gates and a great valley route from the source to the estuary.
Jan De Haes (N-VA), MP for the environment and nature: “The Grote Nete is a beautiful river, full of ancient winding meanders, beautiful castles and watermills as precious heritage, the Loire of the Campine. The Grote Nete Valley is invaluable due to its great wealth of nature and biodiversity and its exceptional recreational potential. You will find countless places, often small but unique and relatively unknown, where it is good to stay.
The Grote Nete was redeveloped in the 1970s with high dykes to quickly drain water to the sea. As a result, the river drains the valley instead of holding water in place and letting it soak into the ground. De Haes: “Today we realize that things have to change. The great drought of last summer shows that we must give back space to the rivers, ready for the future. And that future will look eerily like the Grote Nete of my youth, with wet bushes, swamps, flood meadows and wide reedbeds where water-bound nature can thrive.
Many players are active in the valley. For example, the Agency for Nature and Forests and the Flemish Waterway contribute to the recovery of the valley with the Sigma plan. The river will again have more room for flooding and around 850 hectares of wetland nature along the river will be restored. Various (supra)local partners such as Natuurpunt, Regional Landscapes and municipalities are also active in the region. In order to align the ongoing processes with the actions of the actors and the ambitions of the local authorities, the province of Antwerp has taken the initiative to launch a territory programme. It provides a platform to work together as a coalition. De Haes: “The fact that we are here with so many partners shows how socially valuable the valley is for our nature, our food supply, for future climate security and as an outdoor destination for people to enjoy themselves. have fun, relax and unwind.
In addition to working on a climate-safe valley, the partners also focus on recreation. Due to the work of Plan Sigma, there will be places where people will no longer be able to walk on the dike. Here and there, alternative paths will be created to give back parts to nature and achieve the restoration of the valley. De Haes: “Some people are still quite suspicious. They fear that we will lose our Nete Valley, but it’s just the other way around. It will be even more beautiful, even if it will take several years before it becomes visible. Because this is a long-term project, we have planned a number of quick wins. The rebirth of the Pinzieleke transfer point is one of them. We want to take people down to the valley with him to show them what’s going to happen. Of course, the ferry also plays a recreational role.
The partners are also studying the possibilities of better opening up the Grote Nete, for example by setting up new reception points. A good example is the Grote Netewoud in Meerhout, similar entry points could also be found at Hof Ter Laken in Booischot or Kruiskensberg in Herenthout en Bevel. De Haes: “We also want to do more for the many walkers and cyclists. This is why we are working on a large hilly route from source to mouth. Such a route tells a story of the Grote Nete and puts all the heritage gems and nature reserves in the spotlight. There is still a lot of work on the table for the partners. It is time to get to work and build the Grote Nete of the future in dialogue with all parties involved.
Discover the Grote Nete here:
. (EM / Photo Tom CORNILLE)
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